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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Friday, April 19, 2024

Tufts Creatives: Bang it!

Pranav Menon, '18, poses for a portrait in front of the BEATS ensemble on April 15, 2018.

Everyone knows that hitting things is fun. But for senior Pranav Menon, the Beatsmaster of Bangin’ Everything At Tufts (BEATs), it’s also a passion. Menon believes that by making music with commonplace items, rather than instruments, BEATs performances are much more exciting and immersive than typical concerts. So if you want to enjoy an incredible musical experience, go to Dewick at 9:30 tomorrow night!

Julian Blatt (JB): When did you become interested in drumming?

Pranav Menon (PM): I vividly remember watching my high school drumline when I was a freshman and thinking that, no matter what the cost, I had to learn how to play drums. So I started teaching myself: I bought a pair of drumsticks and a drum pad and drove my parents and teachers and anyone within a 10-foot radius of me crazy for a year. And then I tried out for the drumline and made it.

JB: Which drummer inspires you?

PM:Brian Blade — he treats his drum set like another melodic voice in his music. And that’s how I want to think of drumming. It’s not just a timekeeping device or something to hold steady while other instruments play; it’s part of the compositional texture and melody of the song.

JB: Why does BEATs use everyday objects instead of drums?

PM: I think that when we play percussion on buckets and jugs and trash cans and various pieces of metal, it pushes us to think more creatively of the music. We have to understand how the object produces sounds, how it can be used to produce new sounds and how those sounds fit together. From an audience perspective, I think it illustrates that making music doesn’t require years of training, or expensive equipment or the right ear. The lesson we try to impart in our performances is that music is in everything we do. Walking down the street, your feet on the floor — there’s a rhythm to that. And either you choose to hear it or you choose to tune it out.

JB: Any embarrassing moments?

PM: Something we do in BEATs is “drop the one.” We’ll play a line and cut out for the first beat of the next measure. One of the most embarrassing things you can do is be the only one playing when everybody else cuts out. During the first big show of my freshman year, I was so excited to be playing with BEATs that I forgot to drop the one at a crucial moment. Everyone stared at me with this “What are you doing?” look. It was mortifying.

JB: What would you say to someone who wants to join BEATs?

PM: Something we stress before auditions is that you don’t need any prior musical experience to be a member of BEATs. Plenty of people who are in the group now and have been in the past had never picked up a drumstick until they joined BEATs. What we look for is an inventive spirit. Do you want to try something new? Are you enthusiastic about creating something that didn’t exist before, and being part of something that’s strange and challenges the way we conventionally think about music? If so, BEATs is the group for you.